In a departure from the gritty, dark, and heavy world that is the live action DC universe, DC Kids has managed to create an animated film that is fun to watch, silly, and carries a message. This very self aware, almost meta film is driven by the main characters desire to be in movie. It lives on the overblown nature of Hollywood’s current fascination with the few well known heroes while leaving lesser known ones limited to the wings as sidekicks and supporting characters.
Teen Titans Go! To The Movies plays repeatedly on the comedy value of the only utilizing strong, handsome (white) men in leading roles, unfortunately showing the truth of the problem in itself by focussing on Robin’s struggle while subjugating the rest of the Teen Titans, into the background. The Titans are an interesting, powerful, and diverse supporting cast of minorties and female characters, that is well rounded, well acted, and still clearly out of focus for our hero, who thanklessly treats them all as throwaway friends for the majority of the movie.
Other shots at the unspoken truths of the current inequalities in Hollywood are visible as well. In the world of the Titans, the best known director of superhero films is a woman (holy equal opportunity Batman!) who also happens to be a strong female villainous character (something we have seen little of). There are references to the whitewashing of comic book characters (Green Lantern doesn’t want to talk about it) and crossover characters from one cinematic universe to another that blur the lines in the battle of who owns which characters.
This movie pointedly knocks the tropes and cliches of Hollywood blockbusters around. It’s use of overused plot devices is designed to push the parody value of things. For example, the idea of using media to enslave the minds of hapless viewers is something we’ve seen used over and over throughout the years, but most recently and in a very similar way to this in The Incredibles 2 is central to the evil plot our heroes have to team up to overthrow.
You’ll laugh and groan through an entire sequence dedicated to eradicating the world of superheroes by preventing the tragedies that created them. The Titans do things like playing some epic EDM on the crystals of Krypton, or pointing out a different path home to the Wayne family, or something as simple as keeping turtles from walking into a weird green ooze. All of which goes to show that in the end you can’t mess with the space time continuum unless you want some Biff Tannen level consequences.
This movie was tongue in cheek, horribly silly in all the right ways, and had both kids and adults in the theatre laughing out loud, even if they were laughing at different levels of the same joke. Some of the sequences were clear nods to other comic books, and fantasy films, including a hysterical bit of tribute to Back to the Future and a less than subtle Marvel-esque cameo by Stan Lee himself. There is an entire Upbeat Inspirational Song About Life, a musical number done in a Lisa Frank sticker inspired acid trip style complete with music by a white tiger version of Michael Bolton.
All in all I enjoyed the movie a lot, found a lot to laugh at, and viewed it as a witty and fun animated parody of the industry as a whole. There were plenty of in jokes, and references I’m sure I missed and will probably have to see it a few more times before I feel like I’ve caught everything. I’d say this one is definitely worthy of a rental or streaming, but not really worth the price of a movie ticket, unless you’ve got kids between 10 and 14 who really like fart jokes.